T. E. Lawrence to R. D. Blumenfeld
[Annotations on a press-cutting from the Daily Express. The annotations have been numbered here for clarity.]
There is a glamour attached to the name of Colonel T. E. Lawrence, 'the uncrowned King of Arabia', which many ambitious men must envy.1
There was glamour long before he became Aircraftsman Shaw, and it has been multiplied a thousand-fold2 since his disappearance from the world of his intellectual equals.3
1. Let 'em have it.
2. Only 1000 fold? Dear me. Rotten effort.
3. If I have a world of intellectual
equals? What a gang we'd look.
A correspondent4 sends me some interesting details concerning the existence of this boyish looking blue eyed dreamer.5 He has been at the air depot near Karachi for the last twelve months and seems perfectly happy.6 The other men like him because he has no 'side'7 and do not resent his refusal to accompany them on occasional jaunts to Karachi
5. I don't think.
6. A 'profound meditation,' that.
7. If I had any side, they would knock
off what they call my 'block'. Sides are very expensive and dangerous
parts, for lightweights.
LURE OF THE DESERT.
Karachi he never visits. Instead,
he goes, when off duty, to the edge of the desert8 with a
pocket full of cigarettes purchased out of his daily pay of a few
There he chats with the villagers,10 and joins in their profound Eastern meditations.
8. 'edge of the desert'. Man we're in the middle of it, anyway!
9. Only unluckily I have never smoked! 3 shillings is a few, perhaps: too few, if so.
10. Knowing not one word of any Indian
language; but I suppose they talk English: if there is a village. I
haven't seen one.
Punk, that is. Villagers in all countries have their thoughts centering on those parts of their bodies which lie, as the Arabs say, between the navel and the knee. Food and sex: and I don't meditate, not even profoundly, about either.
- - -
Tell your bright young thing that it's a rotten effort. I could do better than that in my sleep. I hope he'll be content, however, to forget it. I'll promise, in return, not to write fancies about him.>
India, or Karachi at any rate, is a dust-heap. For Karachi read 'Drigh Road' seven miles outside the town, where our aerodrome lies. I have not been outside the camp since I got here, so the dimensions of the dust heap, to which (by which, and at which) I swear, are one mile by one mile and a quarter. If it's a fair sample of India, then so much the better is England.
The climate is astonishing. Never hot enough for a sun-helmet, never cool enough for an overcoat. If it is ever brought near England by an air service, the poor old Riviera will pack up. Twelve months of an Italianate spring!
Not being very fond of Italy I'll relish my life sentence to England, when the good gods give it me in 1931. Indeed, it will be very good. I don't care if it snows and rains and floods and freezes.
If anybody else writes a book about me I'll kill him, painlessly and naturally, but very quickly. Nor will I ever write another book about myself. That Revolt made £17,000 by the way, for the royalty owner. who wasn't me! Good going. It's dead now.
Please remind your wolves, on the 1st of each year, that 'Colonel Lawrence' is on the Daily Express Black List, and never to be mentioned: and then you may believe me.
Your very sincere
T. E. Shaw
|Last revised:||18 February 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset